Highly emotive accusations over the ‘daru’ selection as well as the secret ‘Brahma parivartan’ ritual done in 2015 were raked up on Thursday with the Opposition Congress and BJP demanding an independent probe into the matter.
‘Daru’ is the holy timber used for making idols of the deities at Puri Jagannath Temple, while Brahma parivartan is a ‘secret’ ritual conducted during the Nabakalebar festival when the newly made deities are installed.
Picking up the issue after a carpenter involved in the making of the idols alleged “ fixing” in selection of the holy timber in 2015, the BJP called for a CBI or a court-monitored SIT probe.
There is a belief that the servitors get “divine instructions” on the location of the holy trees for ‘daru selection’. In 2015, three trees were identified to be felled in Jagatsinghpur district and one in Khurda district.
Stating that that allegations were grave, the BJP said money was paid to select these trees and three such trees were “found” in Jagatsinghpur district alone. “Who is behind all this, who rigged the sacred process and who paid hefty amounts are questions that need to be answered and probed,” said BJP spokesperson Pitambar Acharya.
The Congress said the 2015 Nabakalebar was controversial, adding that there was total chaos and the issue had been raised then too. “Ruling BJD ministers were posing for photographs with servitors , the sanctity was compromised and allegations of the secret ritual being captured on mobile handsets had been raised,” recalled a Congress leader.
What was worse that the “secret” ‘Brahma parivartan’, which ought to be done at late night, was delayed till early hours of the morning, noted the Congress.
All this had resulted in a probe by the temple administration in 2015. The report was not made public, but a committee formed to examine it allegedly differed from the findings, said the Congress.
“With the carpenter raking up the issue now, the government needs to step in and order an independent probe to clear misgivings since it relates to the sentiments of crores of Jagannath devotees across the world,” said Congress leader Taraprasad Bahinipati.
In 2015, it may be recalled, BJP leader Bijay Mahapatra (he was in the forefront then but has been sidelined for the last one and a half years) had launched a Jagannath Surakshya Yatra to mobilise public opinion against the alleged mismanagement and irregularities in the conduct of Nabakalebara festival.
Mahapatra’s efforts had drawn public attention across the districts, but an influential BJP leader, considered close to the central leadership, had curtailed the yatra. There were talks that this leader felt Mahapatra was stealing the limelight. It is said the same leader has sidelined Mahapatra sensing him to be a threat to his dominance in the party.